Since the exodus, Deadspin itself has carried on under G/O Media, moving to Chicago from New York and hiring Jim Rich, a former editor in chief of The Daily News, as its newsroom leader. (He is now G/O Media’s editorial director.)
While the people who left Deadspin plan to write on sports for the new site, they will be free to go off-topic when the mood strikes them.
After their departures last year, they created a Twitter feed, @UnDeadspin, to highlight articles by former Deadspin journalists published by other outlets. They also reprised the distinctive Deadspin voice in pop-up blogs around the time of the Super Bowl and again in April.
“A lot of us felt adrift,” Mr. Ley said. “If we felt that way, it’s likely there are pretty significant numbers of former readers who felt that way and would be willing to pay money to have that kind of publication come back.”
The former Deadspin staff members also received emails from fans of the site, which had started in 2005 under the publisher Gawker Media. One came from Mr. Wang, of Bain & Company. Before the pandemic, he met with former Deadspin people at the Gold Star Beer Counter in Brooklyn. Now he finds himself taking on the challenge of starting a moderately staffed digital outlet as its vice president of revenue and operations.
“The hardest part is still the hard part,” Mr. Wang said, “which is having writers with talent and followings, and having these writers willing to hold hands and jump together. Once they decided to do that, building the scaffolding of the business is easier than it’s ever been.”
He said he was optimistic because readers have become accustomed to paying for online content, noting the sports fans who subscribe to The Athletic. He added that vendors like Pico, Stripe and MailChimp have made it easier for media companies to outsource business functions. In addition, he said, the thinning of newspaper sports sections, the dissolution of ESPN the Magazine and layoffs at Sports Illustrated may have created a vacuum.